TO rebrand any product means there are issues to resolve with the existing one. How is the Nigerian politician perceived as a brand? According to the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), the Most Reverend Dr. Felix Alaba Job, the typical Nigerian politician is unpatriotic, lazy, greedy, and corrupt. APCON might have had these issues in mind when it celebrated Advertising Day recently.
AS the Advertising Practitioner Council of Nigeria (APCON), celebrated its Advertising Day, the focus was on the Nigerian politician, who has become a major concern in the nation’s rebranding process.
Most Nigerians view the politician as unpatriotic, lazy, greedy and corrupt. In the mind of the Nigerian public, there is very little cheer the politician gives except a few who have distinguished themselves. Focusing on the politician as a brand therefore has become problematic in today’s Nigeria.
Speaking as guest lecturer during the Advertising Day celebration, Senetor  David Iornem said that the only way to rebrand the nation’s politicians is full understanding of the concepts of branding and rebranding as well as differentiating between advertising and bad advertising and portraying it as a tool for the politician.
He said, “These concepts were developed for the use in the marketing of products or services. As we try to adapt them for application in the context of the Nigerian politician, it is important to note some fundamental differences:
“Products or services are lifeless and marketing experts do whatever they want, but politicians are living humans. Products do not talk while politicians talk. Products do not have feelings while politicians have feelings. Products do not behave or act while politicians behave”.
In his view, several factors could be responsible for rebranding the Nigerian politician, considering the fact that politics is a way of life. Life is incomplete without politics no matter the form it takes – directly or indirectly, knowingly or unknowingly.
“It can be by the Nigerian politician himself, the candidate handlers,” he stated. “Or political parties, civil society organisations or specific relevant government agencies such as National Orientation Agency, Federal and State Ministries of Information, EFCC, ICPC.”
In advertising, where advertisers project good things, beautiful things, positive things, desired state of affairs, riches, wealth, prosperity, general benefits, to persuade the target audience to buy, accept or behave in the particular way desired, Iornem stated that advertising was a viable tool if adequately carried out without sentiment and bias.
He maintained that using advertising to rebrand the Nigerian politician would aim to “change his behavior in the political process starting with electioneering, campaigning, winning elections, losing elections, holding public office, budgeting and budget spending, ethical conduct, stakeholders’ involvement approach in governance”.
He further explained, “The benefits that would accrue to society in terms of progress and peace, harmony and general happiness of the people if politicians were to rebrand. The desirable values can be deliberately promoted to the Nigerian citizens and target politicians.
“To the Nigerian citizens, the purpose would be to create awareness of these desirable political values, hoping that this awareness will guide them as individuals in their community life and, more importantly, guide them in selecting or electing people with the potential to fit the expectations”.
However, his emphasis on Badvertising, which on the other hand, paints a bad or frightening picture of an action, product or service, hoping that the potential consumer or affected person will avoid that product, service, action, conduct, behavior or experience. Depicting a person suffering from serious lung disease as a result of smoking, or dramatising a ghastly car accident, blaming it on over- speeding, or drunkenness are example of badvertising. Badvertising is truth telling through contradiction.
Using badvertising to rebrand the Nigerian politician should be subjected to a thorough research presenting detailed facts. It should “project how corruption can lead to the collapse of an organisation or a nation, not keeping to promises or political arrangements on power sharing such as zoning can lead to unnecessary conflict in society. He argued that wars had been ended by bringing parties together in power sharing arrangements – Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, and South Africa. Wars and conflicts can also be precipitated when arrangements are thrown overboard because it is expedient. 
“Project how corrupt practices can land leaders into trouble, long jail terms and the public shame that goes with it. The EFCC adverts that showed persons in handcuffs are good examples of badvertising; lack of stakeholder involvement can lead to social conflict and heavy losses in life and property. Democracy is very much about the general public good. In fielding candidates, stakeholders must be involved. Those who lose out due to the tyranny of the majority must be accommodated when elections are won and the business of running the society starts.
“Dramatise how ugly and mean the snatching of ballot boxes is and the problems it can create for the society. Projecting politicians who perpetrate electoral fraud as worst than common thieves who end up in jail.
“Projecting budget theft as worse than bank robbery. Projecting the corrupt followership that collects bribes from politicians in votes for cash deals as accessory to crime. 
“Exposing, hoodwinking in governance. For example, Nigeria’s Vision 20:20:20 Project is one such project where even those in charge of it do not believe in its feasibility but still carry on because it is easy to use it to milk the country.”
He stated that just like a traveler, the political candidate marketer needs a compass – marketing research. The dynamic nature of the political marketing environment calls for constant research, which manifests in opinion polling.
He said this emphasised the importance of the role which marketing research plays as a handy compass to show the political candidate marketer the direction to flow.
The rebranding of the Nigerian politician may appear better focused to achieve the desired result if located in the context of the political marketing map, which Iornem’s based his discussion.
Source: The Guardian



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